Milky Way

Grand Canyon Star Party

It’s been over two years since I (or most people) have attended a public star party. In June I returned to one of my newer annual favorites, the Grand Canyon Star Party. I’ve attended both North and South Rim events, but this year I spent at a week at the south rim event doing public outreach each night, and sneaking in some astrophotography on the side. Conditions for deep sky work here are not optimal because of the lunar phase (the Moon comes up not long after midnight), but it is a glorious opportunity for nightscape work.

My Sigma 20mm f/1.4 performed as well as always, but I tried a new lens this year, the Tamron 35mm f/1.4.  I was amazed by its performance. Not only was it sharp and fast, but even wide open, it was dramatically better than the Sigma lens at the same f-stop. I took some snapshots with it, but it really performed on a tracking platform (I used a Sky Watcher Star Adventurer AZ-GTI) with a 20 second exposure. I actually meant to do a full 30 seconds (the maximum exposure without an intervalometer on my Canon EOS Ra), but my fat fingers, the cold, and distracting wind… well, I got what I got! Tell me, does it not look like a giant crab monster in the sky? Or is it just me.

Milky Way Core Image
The core of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Several reddish emission nebula are prominently displayed along ethereal fingers of dusty dark nebula.

Cosmic Tourists

This year the Winter Star Party returned to the Florida Keys after having to relocate for a year due to the extensive damage wrought by Hurricane Irma. We could not have been treated better by the weather, and there’s going to be several additions to my gallery from this years photography and imaging. This is my favorite image from the trip, and I think possibly my favorite nightscape I’ve ever taken. I also won first place in the wide field imaging contest with this shot. Just before dawn, I knew the Summer Milky Way would be making an appearance and I wanted to catch it behind a row of telescopes setup for the star party. While scoping out (ha, see what I did there) locations, I saw two other people shooting possibly Venus and Jupiter being reflected in the water. I knew I had the perfect shot that captured the essence of the Winter Star Party! Two star gazers enjoying the view in tourist central (the Florida Keys). Truly, we are all here as cosmic tourists.

Canon 5D Mark III
10 seconds @ISO 3200
Sigma 20mm art lens f/1.4

Astrophoto of astrophotograhers
Cosmic Tourists